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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  February 4, 2010 12:00am-1:00am EST

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he's got a book, what else? does he have a story? we've got him tonight on "hardball." tighten your seat belts. colin powell says it's time to drop don't ask don't tell. can it get it changed? we'll ask the strategists. sarah palin says she congratulated scott brown. mr. brown says he can't remember that happening. he must have forgot. and then he remembered. what's happening here? is he becoming a politician before he is officially a senator? that is in the "sideshow." we start with the question time in america. david corn the washington bureau chief for mother's jones and mindy finn is a republican blogger. the question lady and gentleman is, mindy, i will start with you. it is fascinating you in the bloggosphere are calling for a frontline regular back and forth between the president of the united states and his rivals on the other side of the aisle and with his own people.
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tell me what you want to see. >> i think we see both parties are tired of politics as usual. scott brown's win is a rejection of the democratic party and policies. what voters are saying are the same things they said in 2006 and 2004, washington isn't listening to us and we're tired of politic as usual. i think what happened friday with the president going to speak to the republican retreat allowing republican members to pose their questions and him to respond, and even more importantly, that it was televised publicly is something that needs to happen more regularly. we need a more civil -- >> we carried it. i don't think fox carried it in its entirety. we had a special. we are proud of that. david corn, the president of the united states exposed himself to his enemy.ç the question is would any president, democrat or republican, agree to a regular format of possible mistakes, exposure. every time you get on television you and i know you can make mistakes. >> yes. >> well, the president doesn't seem
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to be too scared of going on tv a lot. maybe more than other presidents. >> with a teleprompter. what about going before a group of people that are hostile to him? >> we have three dozen people on the left and the right, bloggers, politicos, techie people, internet advocates formed this group demandquestiontime.com. there is a petition. thousands of people have signed it today. we saw what happened on friday as you were watching, too, and realized there was something special and historic about it. we called on obama and the republican leadership of congress to do this on a regular basis. listen, it may not be what's best for the politicians. it may be what is best for the american public and to have a civil debate people can watch and decide for themselves. >> i think it is a great idea. it's great for america. i'm tired of each party talking only to itself. in an echo chamber. here is what david axelrod, the president's spokesman, said on monday to politico. the thing that made friday
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interesting was the spontaneity. that was this past friday. if you slip into a kind of convention then conventionality will overtake the freshness of that. i'm afraid, mindy, my fear is either party who is in opposition will have a choreography, a set of questioners, ringers, ask questions that embarrass the president and it will be one of these tricky little numbers inside the beltway games that offend people more about our democracy. it won't be spontaneous. >> it is certainly possible that could happen but if shenanigans gone and it's something that's publicized, televises and public, that the american people will reject that. i think they'll protest that because it will look like more politics as usual, shenanigans and reject whoever is doing that, whether the democratic party or the republicans. >> let's remind ourselves of what we saw last friday. it was a moment in america's democracy at its best. let's listen. >> we've got to close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality. if you were to listen to the
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debate and frankly how some of you went after this bill you'd think that this thing was some bolshevik plot. no, i mean, that's how you guys -- that's how you guys presented. >> boy, there's the president out there, freelancing, using language that normally is tricky. making a joke about you being perceived as a bol shi vick. you say something you think it is clever, it is taken out of context. the president admits he is a bolshevik, southbound is saying. >> mindy is right, if anybody ç tried sleight of hand in this it might backlash against them. i thought each side in that debate on friday was trying to do their best. they were at their best. obama was at his best. the republicans were at their best in presenting their argument. that's what made it so -- >> the republicans were caught offguard. here's my question. no hard question about national security. the questions were about economics.
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the president was ready on that. it was somewhat -- he could handle it. wouldn't it be tougher if it was about security, about foreign policy? >> it would be. there should have been questions about foreign policy and security. i think the important point is that, during political campaigns the candidates make time to have debates and regular debates. >> well said. >> then when the campaign is over it is over. >> so well said. >> let me tell you my problem. i worked on the other side for years. >> i worked in party politics. aide, top guy with the speaker. my job was try to get the democrats to respond to ronald reagan every week. nobody wanted to do it. they would have prepared speeches. the president was on radio every saturday. an hour to respond. nobody wanted to use that hour to truly respond. every time there's a state of the union address, and your party did it, with governor macdonnell. nice speech. it wasn't a response. why don't they use the time to read the speech and respond to it? governor mcdonnell didn't do that. chris -- >> just a minute.
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mindy you work in politics. they hate response nain nay res. >> you are right. they do. there are reasons their approval ratings are abysmal. >> why didn't governor mcdonnell respond to the president? why didn't he give a speech he had written weeks ahead of time? >> you'd have to talk to governor mcdonnell about that. >> you know why, he doesn't want to respond. they never do. who was that guy? bobby jindal with that speech that night. that had been written weeks before. >> if you place bobby jindal in a room with the president or the democrats and said, hey, let's hear what you have to say -- >> he would have done well. >> he would have done much better. this forces them to play at a higher level. >> the first thing we ought to do is the state of the union that people have to respond. they can't have a script. they have to come out and watch the speech with the american people, brian williams, me, or somebody else has to come out and grab them and say, what did you make of the president's speech? what did you like, didn't like? force them to response in real time. if they can't do it, don't give them the time. you think the networks should do
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that? >> absolutely. i think anything that advances our democracy for people or discussion issues in a more substantive basis that the american people are benefiting from rather than only benefiting the politician is is a step forward.ç >> this puts both parties, the opposition party and the president on a bit of a hot seat. they have to come out and perform very well. they will be judged on the questions that are asked and the answers that are given. >> you all watch c-span. you get to see question period. gordon brown the current prime minister is down in the well. the other guys are up in the hills overlooking down. this time the president was at the baltimore on this ground podium looking down at the little people. the republicans at their breakfast table with their families. he had a physical advantage, right? >> sure. >> and the accomplish politics, he's down there taking flak from these guys. do you think a president would accept that, where he's down notice well and the critics are up there cat calling him? >> that is something the british system are more used to. >> they are good at it. >> they are good at it.
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all we are asking is the minimal step for commitment of regular meetings between the president and the opposition party and the senate. >> give me a formal look what it would be like. it's friday night. it is 8:00. what would it look like? >> on msnbc, of course. i think friday -- last friday was a good model. if they want to talk about how the podium is, they do that in presidential debates all the time, the silliness. you know, it could get -- >> you see the president of either party addressing the congress? would it be the congress? >> it doesn't have to be in the body of the congress. it can be in a conference room. these are things that could be talked about. i think once both sides accept the principle, which the white house hasn't done, and we are waiting to hear back from the republican leadership, whether what they're going to say -- >> we had mike pence on friday night and i asked him if he would go along and he said he wouldn't have a question period like that. >> well, you know, he's not the only voice notice republican leadership. there are others out there. there's a petition.
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>> i think you deserve credit for pushing this thing. i think it's bipartisan here. we are going to take a look at the president today. let's watch the president today. >> some of that transparency got lost. i think we paid a price for it. so it is important, i think, to constantly have our cards out on the table. and welcome challenges and welcome questions. if the republicans say they can ensure every american for free which is what was claimed the other day, at no cost, i want to know. i told them, i said, why would i want to get a bunch of lumps on my head doing the hard thing if you've got the easy thing. >> there you have it. will we have a question period where the president is forced tç answer quoenz a regular basis for the opposition in congress? >> we are pushing for it. so yes. >> demandquestiontime.com. i hope it happens. >> that's what they -- it's
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called demandquestion -- >> time.com. people sign the petition. >> it's called demandquestiontime.com. thank you, david, mindy. here is their website. and coming up, the obama administration is being criticized for treating the christmas day bomber as if he's an ordinary criminal. the administration is pushing back against the gop critiques saying the suspected terrorist would have been less cooperative facing an interrogator in a military uniform. this is getting a little too inside here. we don't know really. we'll see. it depends on the suspect. whether the guy's got a uniform or not. you are watching "hardball" only on msnbc. and freedom of the outdoors for your indoor cat. specially formulated to promote hairball control... and healthy weight. friskies indoor wet cat food. feed the senses. to start losing essential nutrients?
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welcome back to "hardball." republicans have been criticizing the obama administration for being too soft on the christmas day plane bomber, for reading him his miranda rights. for handling him through the regular justice system. now comes word that the terrorist suspect is giving useful information to his interrogators. can republicans go after the president for how he handled the christmas day plane bomber? senator dianne feinstein chairs the senate intelligence committee. that's the question to you, madam chairman, senator, is the case up in the air as to the best way to handle these terror suspects? >> well, in my view, it is not up in the air. i think what we've seen is something very unique which is politicizing it.
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this is the same way that bush 1, bush 2, clinton handled it. and every single terror suspect was handled this way in the eight years of george bush's administration. a couple were transferred into the military jurisdiction, but ç they were all initially charged when committing a crime in this country in an article iii court essentially. it is just not true that the fbi cannot interrogate. i think the best interrogation that i have seen in the eight years i have been on the intelligence committee and 17 years i've been in the senate is actually performed by the fbi. >> we have reasons for interrogating people for criminal reasons. we try to determine their guilt or innocence, try to understand the crime itself. we have intelligence reasons for interrogating people. can they be performed by the same prosecutor, the same
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interrogator, that function? >> well, they can be trained by people who are trained in this kind of interrogation. the fbi's had a very good record. i mean, an agent, jack klunnan in 1993, the world trade tower bombings, he interrogated the blind shaikh, got convictions and he also got people to turn on one another. it was a very successful interrogation, and it was not done with any enhanced interrogation techniques. so they know how to interrogate. i can tell you, without going into detail, because i have been briefed that the interrogation of abdulmutallab has been handled well, it has been effective, operations have been put in play and it has been a very good experience. additionally, the attorney general today wrote a letter to
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the minority leader of the senate, and i'd really urge everybody to read that letter. it very carefully outlines what his legal practice, what his past practice what this attorney general and this administration is doing. and i believe they are absolutely correct. secondly, i believe, though, that the administration should have flexibility in this issue and flexibility to determine whether the individual might be transferred toward military jurisdiction or not. but the point is these are crimes committed in this country and, therefore, there are certain legal strictures that do apply. >> okay. senator dianne feinstein, thank you, senator. >> thanks, chris. with us is republican susan collins of maine on homeland security. thanks for joining us. attorney general erbut wrote in a letter today, since h the september 11, 2001, attacks,
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the practice of the u.s. government followed by prior and current administrations without a single exception has been to arrest and detain under federal criminal law all terrorist suspects apprehended inside the united states. the prior administration's adopted policies expressly endorsing this approach. how can you deny this administration is doing something wrong if it is doing something exactly the way the previous one did? your thoughts, senator? >> well, chris, first of all, that would imply that i agree with the previous administration's handling of some of these terrorists. it is ironic, to say the least, to have the obama administration now saying we're just following what the george bush administration did when they have been saying that everything the previous administration has done was in error on most things. but here's my point, i believe that before a decision
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is made on whether to detain a captured foreign terrorist in a military system or in our civilian courts, there should be consultation with the intelligence community. and i know from asking the question of the director of national intelligence, the secretary of homeland security and the director of the national counterterrorism center that they were not consulted before abdulmutallab was told that he didn't have to answer further questions and given a lawyer at our expense. that simply does not make sense given how critical it is that we secure as much information to try to prevent future attacks. >> here i have a letter. you've seen it, from the attorney general to you. he says "i made the decision to charge mr. abdulmutallab with federal crimes to seek his detention in connection with
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those charges with the knowledge of and with no objection from all other relevant departments of the government. he goes on to say he checked with the intelligence community and got no objections about his course of action. you say there was no consultation? >> that's correct. i would draw a distinction that it is far different to inform someone of a decision that's already been made versus consulting with them. it is clear that abdulmutallab had a great deal of yn=i5q%=99ñ he had just come from yemen. we know that yemen is a hot bed for al qaeda. we know that plots are being hatched against this country. what we had was a very brief interrogation followed by five to six weeks during which time al qaeda is not just twiddling its thumbs in yemen, it is changing
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its plots, moving around, swapping out communications equipment. that was valuable lost time and we could have learned information that might have been extremely valuable to helping to thwart future attacks. >> i'm open to your argument. we're in a quandary on this. what is the best way to get information when we need it? what would you do with the ft. hood situation where you have an american involved apparently being influenced by a lackey and having some communication with a foreign enemy of the united states? what point does a person become a foreign agent? lee harvey oswald an agent of castro when he killed kennedy? was sirhan sirhan working for a terrorist group when he killed bob yi kennedy? at what point do you deny a person of his rights because you believe they are under the influence of a foreign entity? >> first of all, anyone put in a
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civilian courts has the same rights as an american citizen. that is why the initial threshold decision is so important. is it ironic because in the case of the ft. hood mass carry, major ha san is going to go through the military system, a military court-martial. he's not going to be in the civilian court system because he's a member of the army. it seems to me if that is good enough for major hasan, it ought to be good enough for abdulmutallab. >> how do you decide someone is an agent of a foreign power or enemy combatant? i went through the cases of our assassins in this country who were clearly operating out of loyalty to foreign massters, even if they didn't get direct orders. everyone knows that lee harvey oswald was in love
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with castro, that sirhan her hand hated bobby kennedy's policy. where do you draw the line saying that person is an agent and that person is not. how do you know?ç >> that's why you can't have a unilateral decision made by the department of justice which is what you had in this case. clearly the justice department is a critical player, but so is the director of national intelligence, homeland security, the counterterrorism center, the cia, the secretary of defense. so what you do is a consultation with all those parties so you find out what information do they have in intelligence files that might well affect the decision on where the person should be detained and questioned and also tried. >> they are very good arguments. thank you for bringing them to us. senator susan colins of maine, a member of the homeland security committee. thank you so much. i think your arguments are winning a lot of people. eliot spitzer went on the
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because colbert report. he done have to worry about being humiliated these days. this is fascinating to watch. that is next. you are watching "hardball" only on msnbc. ♪ ♪ each day is too much ♪ you can never, never, never get enough ♪ [ female announcer ] our bodies need water... and women who drink crystal light drink 20% more of it. ♪ crystal light.... water your body.
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time for the "sideshow." eliot spitzer was on colbert for the first time he was caught with a prostitute and had to resign from office. here he is with colbert. >> when i see you on tv, i know that has to be an honest broker because you've got nothing to lose, right? >> that sums it up. >> yeah. you got no public image to uphold. it is better you don't uphold your public image at this point. >> there is a certain virtue to be able to tell the absolute truth and stick it to people without worrying about repercussions. that is true. >> exactly.
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there's nothing they've got on you. >> not anymore. >> ben bernanke who oversaw the collapse of not just the united states but the entire world financial system and brought our economy to its knees, has been reappointed as head of the fed. >> right. >> does this give you hope for ç being re-elected governor of new york? because, may i remind you, he screwed everybody. >> i just became a fan of ben bernanke. >> i love colbert. spitzer is doing it right. he quit. gave up the governorship and took the heat and is showing the humility, well-earned humility this country is willing to accept. next up, sarah who? watch senator scott brown dance away from sarah palin saying he never spoke to her. >> do you think that sarah palin is presidential material?
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>> well, sure. she has been a mayor and a governor and has a lot of national following. the more people in a presidential race the better. she never contacted us and vice versa. >> really? she has never contacted you? you've never talked? how do you figure this statement from palin's camp. election night two weeks ago, quote, governor palin spoke with a very happy senator-elect brown this even having congratulated him on his historic vehicle. after being called out yesterday the brown camp said palin's election night call slipped his mind. it is interesting we remember forever the moment we talk to one of our heroes but find less significant chats slipping from our minds. could he really have had a conversation with the alaska governor and forgotten it? you bet you. remember last year when word reached us about bonuses reached at ig's unit? aig's unit that drove aig in the ground, well, it is bonus time
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again. how much bonus money is being paid out to 400 kufrn and former aic financial products employees? $100 million. that's a quarter million apiece. $10 million in bonus money going to guys that got aig in mess. grab your pitch fork big number. up next former john edwards' aide andrew young is throwing the book at his former boss. he will be here to play "hardball." host: could switching to geico really save you 15% or more on car insurance? host: does charlie daniels play a mean fiddle? ♪ fiddle music charlie:hat's how you do it son.
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here's what's happening. scott brown will likely be sworn into office later today. a week earlier than expected. brown asked the state's governor to certify the election results as soon as possible so he could participate in votes this week. the death of three u.s.
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military perngs nell in pakistan is drawing attention to a super secret training and advisory program under way in pakistan's frontier region. u.s. officials now say they're sure that pakistan's taliban leader was, in fact, killed in a suspected u.s. missile strike last month. back here at home, arizona police have arrested self-help guru james arthur ray, charged with manslaughter in the deaths of three people in a sweat lodge ceremony at his retreat in october. and florida officials say a kite surfer has died after being attacks by a slash in the waters off of stuart beach, southeast of port st. lucie. back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." "sex, lies and videotape" last month john edwards admitted he fathered a child by rielle hunter.
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andrew young, a former aide to john edwards, has written a tell-all book about the scandal called" the politician, an sider's account of john edwards' pursuit of the presidency. andrew young welcome to "hardball." you are a valache papers kind of guy. you were in the mob and ratting out the mob. how do you feel about john edwards, the guy? >> first of all, loyalty runs two ways. with john edwards it only ran one way. so i don't -- i loved john edwards for as long as i possibly could. i gave him more than two years. when he initially asked me to do this, he promised me he was going to come clean as soon as the election was over, and i've waited as long as i possibly could to try to get this behind me. >> he promised to come clean about his relationship about rielle hunter if he lost, not if he won? >> he promised as soon as the election was over and/or if elizabeth died first he was
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going to come clean about the whole thing. >> if he won would he come clean, did he tell you? >> yes. he told me he was going to come clean about the whole thing. >> one thing that staggers me. it's not in your book, but flesh this out. >> sure. >> he seemed to be under a delusion, and maybe people reading the book could find the answer, tell me this, that he could leverage the fact he was john edwards after he got creamed in iowa and facing the fact he fathered a child and the baby was going to be born.ç he was going to be exposed. he was still trying to leverage the vice presidency and attorney generalship and get a speaking gig at the convention in prime time. what is it about john edwards that led him to believe he could get something out of nothing? >> chris, you've been at this a lot longer than i have. i mean, it's -- it is something politicians, especially politicians that run for president, feel like they are untouchable. they feel like they can get away with almost anything. it is not just politicians. it is powerful people in los angeles and new york. john edwards felt like he could
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use the delegates he had retained to use that as influence to get a v.p. or attorney general spot with obama and with clinton. >> let me ask you about your role when you went on the lam, the high sierra hideout, where you and the baby and rielle hunter, and your wife went out, who was paying the tab for the hotels? >> fred marin was. fred marin was. the trial lawyer lobby wanted to have john edwards in the attorney general spot because of tort reform >> he would be a ringer. >> tort reform was a huge issue. trial lawyers across the country were laying off employees in mass numbers. >> they wanted john edwards in there to protect their money. >> desperately. what was his view, he had a right to make as much as they could? >> i never heard him say it that explicitly, but, yes.
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>> is john edwards worth the money he made as a trial lawyer or was he clever and seducing the rural jerers in north carolina? i didn't see any genius. have you figured out why he got to be senator, bankrolled by the trial lawyer bench and almost got to be president. what was his secret? >> first of all, i'm a big fan rmg of you. all of us in north carolina are not holding tea parties and burning crosses. john edwards, they are not a bunch of rural bumpkins. john edwards was very successful and rose to the top because he was very charismatic and a very hard worker. within nine years he was three times the viable vp pick, two times a viable presidential pick. >> you are building him up again. >> the truth of what i write in
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the book is the first several years i worked for him, the first two years was immediately after their son wade had passed. john edwards was a good man. i want to tell youç, i truly loved him and his family. we got to be close. we vacationed together. we went to final four together. you name it. we were close. somewhere along the lines of when -- after kerry lost, you know, he was no longer serving in the senate. for two or three years he traveled the world, visiting with billionaires in russia, going to anyone with tony blair. everybody treated him like he was the future president waiting. obama and clinton at that point for those years were not seen as viable threats. >> yeah. how long did you work for him when he thought you were loyal to him but you weren't? how long did you convince him use were a loyalist but had given up on him morally? >> i would like to say i was loyal to him -- >> no. how long did you stay with him
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you after you stopped being loyal to him? >> probably a year. >> a year basically an undercover guy working for a guy who thought you were loyal but you weren't? >> i'm not trying to make excuses for anything we did. we were wrong, i mean -- >> not we, you. >> i'm including my family. >> you worked for a guy you were freening to be loyal to, you were pretending to be a loyal aide to john edwards for a year when you really weren't. you were working against him or didn't like the guy anymore. >> i don't know i was working against him. i was on fred barron's payroll. i was not on john edwards' payroll. >> he thought you were an edwards guy? >> definitely. >> how do you feel about being basic lay rat fink? working for a guy -- i can't imagine being in politics working for a guy i had given up on. it seems to me you ought to get out, find a way, get out. get another job. get out.
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don't work for somebody you thinks a louse. you did for a year. >> let me finish. if you recall, once the lie was told that i was the paternal father, the edwards and the campaign went everywhere they could claiming that i was a thief, i was ineffective employee, somebody who did the laundry. >> at that point you had to get out. i would have gotten out at that point. did you get out at that point? >> no. no, i didn't. i raised millions of dollars for these guys. when this went forward to the end, there was no place for me to go to get a job. i have three kids, two with health issues. is what you're saying right? was it morally right what we did? absolutely not. you're right. at the same time i had responsibilities. >> i hear you. let me ask you this, would we be in trouble now if he had become, let's say would the democratic party been in trouble if he had become the nominee for president or vice president? would this have gotten out and ç
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destroyed the party's chances? >> my personal opinion, absolutely. >> would it be bad for america to have him as vp of the united states? would it have been bad for america? i'm using those words particularly. >> absolutely. >> why? >> john edwards had all the attributes you look for in a president except for one. he had the leadership skills. he was incredibly intelligent. elizabeth is incredibly intelligent. he was care is mattic. well, when he was on, at times he came across as a used car salesman. the one attribute he didn't have was ethics. there was a cold, calculated almost jekyll and hyde personality to him that would be unbelievably scary. and i want to say that, you know, when i first started in politic$ it used to be you had to be a vetted democratic or republican that had worked their way up through the ranks and people
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knew everything about you. you had to be a military leader. you had to be a business leader. as it is now if you can do a 30-second sound bite, raise money and have a lobby like the trial lawyers behind you, you can be president of the united states. >> the thing that scared me about him, andrew, he was attractive. i suppose he could win people over in a small room. i've seen him do it, he is very effective. i get the feeling he never read a book. i don't think he read the newspaper. i think he had a total lack of intellectual interest in the presidency. i don't know why he was pursuing it. except out of some sort of grand e egotism. did you get a sense he had an intellectual reason to be president? >> i think he was inspired -- his son, you know, this was one of his son's dreams for him to run for office. you know elizabeth edwards very well. she is one of the smartest people on the planet. and very early on, going back to law school they had almost a partnership and going through when they practiced. she was the brains.
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she ran the campaign. she wrote all the papers, the speeches. he was the spokesperson. >> yeah. i always thought she was great and he was a lightweight. but that's yufts just from my instinct of dealing with these people. all sail and no cargo. elizabeth i always liked her. you have a book out called "the politician." what is the real worth in reading this book besides expose? >> i think a couple of things. it talks about the seduction of politics. it talks about how people like myself get roped into believing, you know, just like reggie love and other people, you g' take a short track from being just a common campaign laborer to working at some of the highest levels in the white house. >> i know. >> but it shows betrayal. john edwards, here is the truth. john edwards was one of my best friends and i took a bullet
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because i believed in him and he backed over me with a semi truck. >> okay, thanks. >> sorry. >> we've got to go. "the politician." thanks for joining us on "hardball." >> a strategist will be here to debate don't ask don't tell. a hot one. colin powell, who could be the decider on this, has said he this don't ask, don't tell is wrong. he wants open service notice military as does the chairman of the joint chiefs who personally endorsed it. [ sighs whoo-hoo! this hair color is a washout. try nice'n easy with color-blend technology. in 1 step, get a blend of 3 tones. highlights, lowlights, and shine. it makes a fresh, light-filled frame for your pretty face. nice'n easy. your right color.
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a gallup poll and another ten states, lean democratic only five states are either solid republic. only five. that leaves 12 competitive states. of course, several states considered competitive on this
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map are anything but, texas, oklahoma, much of the deep south. while some people say that they are democrats, the question is how many of them are willing to vote. "hardball" returns after this.
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we're back. former secretary of state and retired general colin powell weighed in on the fight over ending the military's don't ask, don't tell policy today. here's his powerful statement. "in the almost 17 years since the don't ask, don't tell legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed." wow. let's bring in a strategist, democrat steve mcmahon and republican, todd harris.
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i'm amazed. people don't change their minds. when he changes his mind, it's a big deal, on top of mike mullen chairman of the joint chiefs saying he personally thinks we've got to get rid of, open service seems to be the call. >> colin powell coming out and doing this is an absolute game changer.ç it's interesting because there is a generational split. you've pointed out on the show before. younger people think that gay and lesbian americans -- >> they think we're crazy at my able to have this debate. >> they don't have a problem with gay marriage. one of the reasons that republicans are having a problem with young people is because they're on the wrong side of so many social issues. this is just another example of that. >> the key question, todd, not the only question, but a key question is whether young service people, those who volunteer to risk their lives, to give their careers to military service, how they adjust to it, i think that's part of the answer. it's not, they don't have the right to veto it, but how is that question answered? your thoughts? >> well, it would be answered in a realtime lab experiment if they actually overturned the ruling. but, you know, i think that -- i
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have to say, i think that this is not great politics for president obama. even if you put aside what people think about this specific policy, there are basically three groups that have opinions about this. there are people who are going to hate it, there are people who are going to love it, and then there are people in the middle who think largely that this administration is trying to tackle too much right now. overwhelmingly, when you look at polling data and you say what should the focus of the obama administration be, it's jobs and the economy. and the more there are issues like don't ask, don't tell, cap and trade, that look like this administration is taking their eye off the ball, it's bad politics for democrats. >> okay. when would you say would be a good time to bring up the issue of don't ask, don't tell? give me a year. >> well, i would say when we're not in the middle of two wars -- >> for 17 years we've been putting it off. >> we haven't been in two wars for 17 years with the unemployment rate where it is today. so i would say for most people, they would say this is not the right time. >> i don't know when the right
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time is. i've got to go. we'll be right back with "hardball" and this debate. ahhh. time to get the latte budget under control. [ female announcer ] trying to be smart with the family budget? here goes the good old steam. [ pfffft! ] whooa!!!! [ female announcer ] let bounty help... because it cleans the mess with less than the bargain brands. it's thick and absorbent... and really durable. in lab tests bounty absorbs twice as much as the bargain brand. [ steam hisses ] why use more when you can use less? bring it. with bounty. the thick quicker picker-upper. want huge value? try new bounty huge roll.
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speaking for myself and myself only, it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. no matter how i look at this issue, i cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. >> wow. that was admiral mike mullen, speaking for himself, he said, on tuesday. we're back with the strategist, democrat steve mcmahon, and republican, todd harris. your thoughts. you want to change this law? the democratic party basical basically -- >> absolutely. i'm told that the commanding officers of the military were telling president obama privately it was only a matter of time before the policy was going to change anyway, and the president said, it's time to do it now. i disagree with todd, i think it's good politics. because the people who hate this are never going to vote for the president anyway.
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the people who love it are going to give him a lot of credit. and the people in the middle are very tolerant are voting democratic on these kind of issues. maybe not right now on economic issues but on these kind of issues. >> todd, i don't know the kinzie numbers are what you go by, but there are a lot of gay people in the country. aren't they going to be thrilled by the fact that the president has taken up this cause publicly again? >> i'm sure they will be. but to steve's point, they're largely voting for president obama anyway. the issue, i don't think when it comes to independent voters, that this is a gay rights issue, where people who either are tolerant -- hold on. my point in bringing this up is that there are a lot of people right now who are hurting economically, and if they feel like, regardless of how they feel about this issue, if they feel like the administration is not focused on jobs and the economy, i think that's going to hurt democrats this fall. >> quick question, todd, are you for opening it up to open service, yourself, personally? >> well, you know, i'm not
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running for office, so my personal opinion done matter. >> no, but i want to know. i'm curious right now. are you for this policy of open service or not? >> look, i'm a libertarian, i don't really care about most of these issues. >> in other words, you're for open service, but you're here speaking for the nay bobs who don't agree with you. i love the way you patronize your party. anyway, thank you, steve mcmahon and todd harris. join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 eastern for more "hardball." "countdown with keith olbermann" starts right now.ç which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? president's question time, again. not as many face plants, but not a good day to be senator blanche lincoln asking for bipartisan economic reform. >> are we willing, as democrats, to also push back on our own party and look for that common ground that we need to work with republicans and to get the answers? >> if our response ends up
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being, you know, because we don't want to -- we don't want to stir things up here, we're just going to do the same thing that was being done before, then i don't know what differentiates us from the other guys. and i don't know why people would say, boy, we really want to make sure that those democrats are in washington fighting for us. >> seeya, blanche. and bye, even. another unprecedented day in american political history. the president also insists health care reform will still happen. what you insisted on, today's free health clinic at hartford, connecticut. abdulmutallab keeps on talking, implicating his co-conspirators. and oddly, so do the republicans. >> there's no indication that this administration, it's learned anything from the christmas day bomber. >> yeah, actually, they've

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